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Chairman Walden Extends Open Invite to Tech CEOs


05.15.18

WASHINGTON, DC – In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) penned an open invitation to Silicon Valley CEOs, building on the dialogue started at the committee’s April hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The op-ed invites leaders of the tech community to testify before E&C, providing the opportunity for companies to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and discuss their business, data, and consumer protection practices with Congress and the American people.

Chairman Walden wrote: “This committee and the American people need to hear directly from the major players in the tech industry. Consumers deserve a deliberative and exhaustive examination of the digital ecosystem that has become a part of our lives. In the weeks following our hearing with Zuckerberg, a critical question looms: Can the tech industry self-regulate, or does the federal government need to intercede? This committee intends to answer that question, and we’ll need to hear directly from the brightest minds in tech to do it.”

House committee seeks input from tech CEOs
Op-ed by Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR)

After several mishaps, breaches, and communications failures, many tech giants are now coming to grips with the awesome responsibility that must accompany the unparalleled power they wield. The eyes of the world turn to Silicon Valley as consumers ask tough questions about how their personal data are used online. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified last month before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the challenges his company faces as it attempts to secure user data and police harmful content on the platform. However, we’ve only scratched the surface, and it’s clear the questions surrounding online consumer protection and data privacy go well beyond Facebook.

This committee and the American people need to hear directly from the major players in the tech industry. Consumers deserve a deliberative and exhaustive examination of the digital ecosystem that has become a part of our lives.

In the weeks following our hearing with Zuckerberg, a critical question looms: Can the tech industry self-regulate, or does the federal government need to intercede? This committee intends to answer that question, and we’ll need to hear directly from the brightest minds in tech to do it.

And so, the Energy and Commerce Committee extends an open invitation to Silicon Valley CEOs. Come and testify before our committee, explain your business model, and enlighten consumers about how your industry affects their daily lives. I strongly encourage the best and brightest of the tech world to accept this invitation. Trust me, it’s much easier to testify at a congressional hearing before your company gets caught up in a scandal. We have welcomed several tech CEOs and founders to this committee in the past few years to discuss disruptive innovation, privacy, data security, and the economic impact of this sector. The feedback from both Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. has been positive.

In an interview with CNN, Zuckerberg said he was “happy” to testify before Congress if it was “the right thing to do.” It was, and the American people are better off because of his time spent at our committee. I deeply appreciate Zuckerberg’s testimony and hope other tech CEOs share his enthusiasm for dialogue with Congress. There’s no doubt that both lawmakers and consumers will recognize that this transparency is happening voluntarily and without negative press coverage or federal regulations forcing your company’s hand.

As we in Congress keep learning more about Facebook’s use of personal data, we also want consumers to have the full picture about Google’s advertising model, Twitter’s algorithms, and Apple’s data collection practices. We want to examine how dangerous content continues to exist on YouTube, how Amazon has disrupted the retail industry, how Netflix prioritizes content across networks, and much more. …

Click here to read the full op-ed online.

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